A/N: It's been so long since I've written Gilmore Girls. This is a new idea I got actually from a wedding announcement in the NY Times. It sounded SO MUCH like Rogan. So, I wrote it up!
Rory sat at her desk, idling going through her email as she avoided the article due by the close of business. She hated getting writer's block. It always felt like a complete time suck, particularly since writing was her job. The New York Times didn't hire her to stare at a blank word document. But that's all she had. Well, she had a headline, which would undoubtedly change once she finished the story. Her journalism professors back at Yale always taught students to draft the headline last.
"Your story writes the headline, not you!" her one professor was apt to bark, particularly after returning a crop of assignments.
Rory rarely rebelled, her brief dalliance with stealing yachts taught her she didn't have the stomach for it, but she always drafted the headline first. It didn't matter that professors with years of experience found it ill advised, nor that she almost always ended up changing it. The words really didn't matter; it was an active start. It oiled the oftentimes rusty cogs of her creativity, helping her fingers tap out letters on the keyboard.
But not today. No, today was one of those days where even the extra caramel macchiato with the extra shot of espresso wouldn't get her fingers moving. She tried everything, even resorting to free writing – an exercise she hated back during school. All that resulted in was an entire page of gibberish, half of which didn't even relate to her story.
She slumped in her chair, opening the top drawer and pulling out a bag of red vines. She'd tried to cut back on sugar a few weeks back, but had failed miserably. Whatever health benefits it may have extolled did not nearly make up for that three o'clock sugar rush with which she was so accustomed. One of her coworkers suggested she eat fruit instead. Lorelai laughed for a solid five minutes when Rory told her that.
Three red vines in, and several articles on Buzzfeed later – for mental stimulation, of course – Rory heard the telltale ping of her email. She hesitated, nervous it would be her editor asking about the article. It wouldn't be unexpected. She usually had her articles turned in well before deadline. Now she was working with just under two hours. Instead, she saw it was an email from a name she didn't recognize. The subject line read: DD Interview.
Curious, Rory clicked on the email. Within the first sentence, Rory recognized it as a PR pitch. She almost trashed it, but the pitch was interesting, so she read on. It was for a new app called Designated Dialer, which allowed a person to lock their phone before they went out drinking. When they tried to call certain numbers, a sobriety test would be administered. If they passed, the number would go through. If they did not, the call would not go through.
"I know a few people who could use this," Rory murmured, continuing to read through.
The pitch went on to cite impressive statistics for downloads, and several links to coverage in notable trade magazines and blogs. Ultimately, what it wanted was for The New York Times to interview one of Designated Dialer's creators. Namely, Logan Huntzberger.
She stared at the name at the bottom of the email, feeling her entire body tingle like right before you throw up. She quickly deleted the email, jamming her finger down on the delete key so hard that it hurt.
Logan Huntzberger. She hadn't seen him since her graduation. Not since he proposed, she said not right now, and he walked away. She could still feel the heavy weight in her stomach. The disbelief and hurt as she watched the man she loved give up on her. Give up on them. That was the last time she saw him.
She didn't have time for this now. Another half hour passed without her even noticing, and now she only had an hour and a half to get this damn article written. She didn't cover tech stuff anymore, anyway. That had only been when she started at the Times. They needed a tech reporter, and she was willing to do just about anything to get her byline in that paper. But now she was covering politics and foreign affairs, where she always wanted to be. She'd forward it to someone. Tomorrow. She'd forward it to someone tomorrow.
Rory barely finished her article in time, but she was able to put together a barebones first edit to send to her editor right before five o'clock. She knew it wasn't her best, but it was something to work with. Food was typically pretty scarce in her apartment, and she stopped at Whole Foods and picked up a selection of things from the hot bar to last for the week. The bill ended up being almost as much as her paycheck for the month, but at least she wouldn't have to cook.
She took the subway over to her Brooklyn apartment, trying to not notice the rancid smelling man sitting next to her. Finally she was home, and she turned her key in her door, walking in to the overpowering smell of glue.
"Hi Paris," Rory said, stepping in and heading toward the kitchen. She eyed the craft table – ironically enough, the same one from their dorm back at Yale – and noticed there were several more little pots and containers there than the day prior. Paris took up making her own lotions and scrubs after Terrence – who was still her life coach – suggested using her hands in such a way would help her come down from the stress of her internship over at the local hospital. Rory didn't really understand why doing something with your hands would help unwind after a whole day of using said hands, but it seemed to work for Paris.
"I made some lavender epsom salt scrub. You have to try it. It smells so good I was practically huffing it."
Rory began to put the food away and mused, "Can you huff things with salt in it? I feel like that would hurt."
"It would definitely cause nose bleeds. We saw that today, actually. Well, not snorting salt, but someone was snorting nutmeg. Apparently it's the new drug of choice. How stupid are kids these days? We would have never done anything like that."
"We were into the good, well-established drugs," Rory returned.
"That's not what I mean," Paris said. "But…you know what I mean."
"Yes," Rory said placatingly, walking over to the table with her plate of food. "I do. So, I had an interesting email at work today."
"Is this really interesting? Or just interesting to you?"
"It's really interesting," Rory said, mildly offended.
"Because last week you said you had an a really great story. And it was about someone using a semi-colon incorrectly instead of a period."
"Someone pitched me to interview Logan," Rory said, letting the story speak for itself. Paris's eyes widened, and she said, "Wait, your Logan?"
"He's not mine," Rory said uncomfortably.
"He was for a long time," Paris pointed out. "But, Huntzberger? Really? What has he gotten himself into this time? Transvestite prostitute?"
"No, it's for my old tech beat," Rory said. "His PR team must not have an updated media list. He created a new app. It's actually gotten a significant amount of buzz."
"Wow, what is it?"
Rory told her all about it, and Paris snidely returned, "Of course he'd come up with a drinking app. So, what are you going to do?"
"I don't know. I'll probably just send it on to our tech guys. I don't do that work anymore."
"Come on, you can't give this to someone else. This is your chance."
"My chance to what?"
"To show him how good you're doing," Paris urged. "Your byline is in the New York Times. You have arguably the best haircut of your twenty-seven years of living. And, you're dating a hedge fund manager."
Rob. Rory had forgotten about Rob. Her boyfriend of six-months who very much should have come to mind when her ex-boyfriend suddenly popped back into her life, but hadn't.
"It's not my beat anymore. I don't even know if they'd let me write it."
"Then ask. Come on, you wrote there for two years. You covered every boring, insignificant iPhone update. They owe you this."
They didn't owe Rory anything, but she couldn't help but be intrigued by the idea. Her old editor there liked her a lot, and had been markedly disappointed when she left the tech wing for political affairs. He'd probably take her back with open arms, if even just for one piece.
"I guess it can't hurt to ask."
"You haven't seen him since graduation, right?" Paris asked.
Rory shook her head. "No, not since then."
"That has to be so weird. To go all this time without hearing from someone, and suddenly their name pops up in your inbox."
Rory swallowed hard, nodding. Yes, it was strange. But, a bit less strange since she had heard from him since graduation. It was only a message on her work phone. Exactly three minutes and twenty seven seconds. No one knew. Not Paris. Not even Lorelai. She'd been too ashamed of what she did after.
Three minutes and twenty seven seconds. It was such a small amount of time, but he managed to say so much. She remembered it was winter, and she'd just settled into her new position at the Times. She was still new enough that seeing messages flashing on her phone gave her more excitement than consternation. She'd pressed the button, expecting to hear her editor's voice, when Logan's came out of the small speaker. She nearly knocked over her coffee.
"Rory, hi. It's Logan. Logan Huntzberger. You probably didn't need my last name. Anyway, I wanted to call and congratulate you on your new job. I always knew you were meant for the big leagues. I'm so proud of you. Anyway, that's why I'm calling. To say congratulations. I tried your cellphone, but you must have a new number or something. So, that's all. I just..." there was a long stretch of silence, "…look, what I'm about to say I probably shouldn't say on a machine, but I don't know if I'll get another chance to say it, so I'm just going to. I shouldn't have walked away. You waited for me that year I was in London, and all you were asking for was that I do the same for you. I should have waited. I should have listened, and heard what you were trying to say. But I was too stubborn. I had it in my head that we wouldn't work if we had to do long distance again. But, we could have. We would have, and I wouldn't be leaving this fucking message on your machine. I'm sorry that I did that you. I'm sorry that I did that to us. I regret it every day…and...Anyway, I'm going to be in New York next month. I'd really like to see you. Even if we can't get a dinner, maybe just coffee sometime. I've really missed you. So, my number's still the same. Give me call. Bye Ace."
She played the message three more times before deleting it. She never called. Part of it was due to her schedule, but an even larger part was her pride. He hadn't wanted to be a part of her life before. What gave him the right to barge back in? The next month came and went, and there were no more personal messages on her voicemail. Life returned to normal. She worked her way up the tech beat food chain over the years, until she finally had the opportunity to parlay her way into political affairs. She met her hedge fund manager. Her life shaped up in every way imaginable, and this was all because she'd said no. She'd be a bored housewife in San Francisco otherwise, tending to her avocado plant and writing for papers she didn't believe in. Her new life served as vindication. It was something she could point out to her future grandchildren and tell them, "This is what logical and reasoned decisions lead you to."
"If you get the story, I expect insider knowledge," Paris said, pulling Rory back to the present inside their rent-controlled apartment.
"Maybe a stalker photo on your phone," Paris suggested. "I want to see if he got fat."
"Why would he have gotten fat?"
"I don't know. A lot of guys do. Remember Chip Harrington from Feminist Lit? He looks like he's ready for the professional eating route."
"I doubt he got fat."
"I don't know. He did like to drink. That adds up when you're over twenty five."
"It doesn't really matter either way. The story is about his app, not his weight."
Rory stood up and brought her plate over to the sink. Behind her, Paris called out, "If he got fat, I definitely want a picture!"
Rory asked her old editor, Gary, the next morning if she could take on the story, and he agreed immediately after hearing that her and Logan were old friends.
"Definitely, Gilmore. You'll be able to get more good stuff from him. Email his PR guy back, and tell them we'll take the story."
Rory went back to her desk and fished the email out of her delete box. She typed a quick reply with a time and place to meet and then sent it out. Her inbox dinged with the response only a few minutes later.
RE: DD Interview
Great! I'll pass this along to Logan.
And just like that, four years late, her and Logan were getting together for that coffee.
She was nervous. Her focus hit an all time low during the day as she counted down the hours, minutes, seconds until their coffee, and then New York decided to be windy, and she walked over toward the nearest Starbucks where she'd set the interview, swearing as her skirt danced around her legs. When she stepped inside the coffee shop she looked down at her skirt and saw the deep creases. She hated this skirt. Why did she even own this fucking skirt?
Someone walked in behind her, and displayed some New York charm as he muttered, "Move your ass, lady."
She stumbled forward, looking around furtively to see if he'd arrived yet. He hadn't. She got in line and anxiously pulled at the bottom of her shirt. Coffee would be good. It would calm her nerves, hopefully enough so she could write without her hand shaking. She didn't want him to see her like this. Didn't want him to know that he still affected her.
She ordered a large coffee – or venti, she still ordered it as a plain large like at Luke's – and gratefully took it with one trembling hand. This was ridiculous. She wasn't here on a date. She was interviewing him for her paper, for goodness sake. She was in control.
A table in the back corner opened and she hurried over, knowing from experience that the acoustics would be perfect for a casual conversation. She settled on one of the seats and pulled her notebook and pen out of her bag. Most people typed interviews on their computers, or iPads for the particularly tech savvy, but she always preferred pen and paper.
She felt him before she saw him. Something in the air shifted, and when she glanced over her shoulder there he was, looking almost exactly the same as he did five years prior. When he walked into the light she noticed perhaps a few more angles to his face, a broadening of his shoulders, but it was still Logan. Her legs pulled her up into standing without any input from the rest of her.
He smiled shyly, such a foreign look on his typically mischievous face. "Hi Rory."
Rory. Not Ace.
She stepped forward, instigating the hug. His arms were hesitant to go around her, but once they did it felt perfectly natural. She pulled away first, hoping her cheeks weren't stained pink, but knowing they were.
"It's nice to see you again," she said.
"You too. I was actually surprised to see you were interviewing me."
She blanched, thinking he was referring to that very long, very soul-baring message she'd never returned. "You were?"
"Yeah, you haven't covered tech in a while."
"Oh, no," she said, relief spreading in her chest. "I moved sections."
"I know. I always found it a little ironic that the most technologically illiterate person I knew was writing about tech startups and smartphone politics."
"You go where the stories are," she returned.
"You didn't do a half bad job."
"Well, thank you. It took a bit more work than the others, but I got a grasp on most things eventually. Although I still don't totally get the cloud. I've had many people explain it to me – very, very smart people – but…" she made a sort of 'poof' gesture with her hand, "…not happening."
"I'd offer my services, but I'm a bit hazy on the cloud, myself."
She grinned. "I appreciate the offer of an offer."
It was so easy, falling back into the old banter. She thought it would be uncomfortable, what with the unanswered message and the years, so many years, but it wasn't. She had to remind herself that she had a job to do, and while small talk was important, there was a point she had to work her way to.
"So, Designated Dialer. How did that come about?"
He shifted in his seat. She realized then that he didn't have a coffee, but it was a bit too late to tell him he could get one.
"Do you remember Finn?" he asked.
"Of course I do. You never forget someone who throws a Quentin Tarintino party."
Logan grinned. "Okay then. Well, Finn had a bad habit of drunkenly calling all of the girls he'd slept with, promised to call, and then wouldn't. Naturally, these women would get very angry when the handsome Australian who left them high and dry three months prior called them at two in the morning."
"I can't imagine why."
"So, I was working at GenTech at the time. We did a lot of work with –"
"Smartphone software," Rory interjected. He looked surprised and she said, "I wrote about them back when they were a startup."
He nodded appreciatively. "Right. Well, I was there and I worked with this guy who was always tinkering with the software. Part of it was for work, the other part for fun. I told him about Finn, and how great it would be if there was some way you could lock your phone for certain numbers when you went out. Those conversations turned into actual software plans. Then business plans. And, here we are."
"So, it all started because of Finn," she said, smiling a bit.
"It all started because of Finn."
Rory scrawled something quickly into her notebook, and then the interview continued. She asked about the specifics of the software, and how expansively they planned to market the app. Gradually the shoptalk wound down, and they started talking just about themselves.
"How long are you in New York?" Rory asked, picking up her coffee.
"The plan right now is indefinitely," Logan said, making her nearly choke on her coffee. "I just signed a lease last week."
"You moved here?" she asked.
"Yeah, I didn't like San Francisco that much. Too many seagulls. Too much rain. All the sports teams suck."
"So, you're here," she said, more to herself than to him. "In New York."
"Yeah, that's the general plan."
Without thinking she blurted out, "I have a boyfriend."
He cleared his throat, somewhat uncomfortably, and said, "I think that's great."
"I'm sorry," she said quickly. "I don't know why I said that. I just…I do. His name's Rob. He's very nice."
He looked to the side, and she saw it. The voicemail. It hung between them like some illusive, voicemail-elephant in the room, but she couldn't bring it up. Every excuse she had for not calling back seemed cheap and flimsy with him sitting across from her. For a moment, while they were talking, she almost thought he forgot about it. He didn't remember the three minute and twenty seven second voicemail where he was more open and raw than all of the three years they dated.
Of course he did.
"Well, I should get back to work," she said. It was the coward's way out, and she knew it.
"Okay. If you need anything else, just let me know. My number's the same. I'm guessing you still have it?"
She swallowed hard and nodded. "I still have it."
"Great. Give me a call if you need anything else."
He got up first and held out his hand. A handshake felt so formal, but she happily took it. She didn't think she could take a hug right now. He walked out, and she watched him go. Maybe he'd create an app next to stop sober thoughts from calling on old boyfriends. That would be nice.
A/N: Designated Dialer is an actual app and I did not come up with it! So, please do not sue me! If you want more, please review!